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In the name of empowerment

In what stage would the world have been if we all had the same level of education, expertise or knowledge? Our lives would have been monotonous and frustrating and moreover we still might have been in the Stone Age searching for the roots and shoots for our survival. With all the differences that we have I am glad that human beings are progressing every passing minute. We have knowledge on different fields and are developing our expertise thus enhancing the lives of all the human beings. But the women welfare oriented organizations of Nepal do not comply with the idea of respecting the diversified nature of the human beings as they firmly believe that everyone are to be bestowed upon by the same level of expertise.

Recently I went to the eastern part of Nepal, Rajbiraj where I luckily got to interact with few female youth leaders. While talking to them I came to know that the municipality has been training women to stitch clothes. I thought the concept of providing training to women was a commendable job but then I realized that in fact it was not praise worthy move. Rajbiraj is a small town where almost every people know the other person and in such place if all the women get the same training what will be the use of that training? Where will these women use these skills if every other house has a woman who has the same level of skill as of her? Where will she demonstrate or use her skills to uplift her economic status? Are not these institutions or organizations aware of the fact that their trainings will go to drain; the time and resources will be wasted? Despite being aware of these facts these institutions or organizations just do not bother to ponder upon it because these types of trainings have been one of the sources of income to them. Are these organizations really working for the benefit of the women or for the benefit of their own sake is a question that remains unanswered. If they are committed to uplift the status of women they might have worked in a different manner like providing trainings to women who are really in need of the training and helping them to set up a business. But the organizations in Nepal fail to do so and are burdening the women with lots of trainings with no future usage.

There are more than thousands of organizations working for the benefit of women in Nepal and the way they function is similar to what has been mentioned above. With all these so called women oriented organizations, are women of Nepal benefiting in the real sense or it has just been one of the means to acquire a better life for the development workers. With all the trainings and workshops women of Nepal are further more deprived and are even much burdened with extra works with no proper benefit. The women in rural areas have much more household chores to complete which seems unimaginable to the city dwellers or the people living in the developed economies. In such scenario women are going through the burden of extra works like these trainings and workshops which only certifies them with skills with no further usage. Moreover, these trainings are not just the wastage of time but can also bring many household repercussions. In patriarchal society like Nepal women are not readily sent outside of their house either for work or for trainings. And if they allow her to go beyond the four walls of their house, she is expected to bring something in return. But in the absence of of any opportunity to gain she is even more vulnerable to domestic violence resulting in both physical and mental stress resulting in disempowerment of women.

Despite started with the noble cause to empower women these organizations in fact are pushing women even backward. And if they are thinking of enhancing their lives by using the plight of deprived women, then they are to seriously assess their moral ground. In fact these institutions are not only pushing women backward but also are hampering the growth of the whole human race. In order to stop such kind of acts against women, the whole concept of empowering women is to be revised. Thus the institutions and organizations further disempowering women in the name of empowerment are to rethink their concept of empowering women as women now have started to identify what lays behind the whole concept of uplifting women's status in the developing economies.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most forgotten corners of the world. Meet Us.


JaniceW's picture

Compelling argument

Anjana, this is a powerful op-ed that speaks to a problem rarely raised when talking about women's empowerment. There is the thinking that any form of training is beneficial and so it is interesting to read your arguments for a more strategic approach to empowerment. It seems that in Nepal, there are many cultural barriers that must be considered in order to create a truly meaningful program.

In your work analyzing government policy, I wonder what solutions you see working and what you propose. As markets are driven by supply and demand, would forming women's cooperatives that train the women not only in a skill that is in demand but also provides education in economics, financial management, literacy and business management be more appropriate? This way, they not only learn how to produce goods of value but can also manage their businesses to provide them with economic power within their village. I would love to hear more from you on this topic as I am sure you have explored different ideas and have seen success stories in your work.

This is a well-written op-ed that provides a strong argument for re-thinking how the NGOs tackle the issue of empowerment. Great job!

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Anjana, You have raised

Dear Anjana,

You have raised an important issue. It really needs a look into what these organisations are doing in the name of empowerment. The efforts/initiatives should bear the required fruit or atleast make a way in the direction. Otherwise it all goes down the drain. Well done.



lanjana's picture

Dear Janice and Nusrat Thank

Dear Janice and Nusrat

Thank you for your comment, your input really means a lot and helps to improve further and bring out other issues related to women which are kept hidden for so long

thank you


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